Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hesitant government a loophole for radicalism

Hesitant government a loophole for radicalism

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Mon, 03/21/2011 9:39 PM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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The recent bombs delivered in packages disguised as books sent to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, an activist of liberal Islamic network (JIL), and other prominent figures last week cannot be explained in plain and simple language.

Nor can it be pinpointed what caused someone to intimidate the public with the acts of terror. Although the perpetrators may be arrested, the root cause of the problem remains unaddressed.

The answer to this issue is complex. After a series of assaults on minority groups, Ahmadiyah, in many parts of Indonesia, the Christian minority in Temangung, Central Java, and the Shi’ite group in Pasuruan, East Java, and apparently now the liberal news network is being harassed. Who is next?

Just get ready, in case your group becomes the next target. In fact, with their blind dogmatic jihad, the radical perpetrators will never rest in their pursuit of finding new enemies.

Indeed, the series of these atrocities unfolded systematically, even though the perpetrators are most likely not the same group or people. But why did the radicals boldly intimidate the Indonesian public?

Do not look only at their conservative and radical theological dogma, according to which the last Prophet Muhammad is uncompromised in truth and liberalism is poisonous. The victims were blamed. After all, the alibis are just unfounded.

Attention should be given to the background against which their actions are executed. The weak central government is perhaps the first chief factor.

True, since the reform period, Indonesia has never seen a strong ruling government from the era of BJ Habibie to the current period of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesians appear to learn well from the traumatic experiences under two authoritarian presidents —Sukarno and Soeharto.

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Tales from the Holy Land

Tales from the Holy Land

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Wed, 03/16/2011 10:24 PM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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In Indonesia, religious piety has become a public norm. Indonesian Muslims pray five times a day, fast during Ramadhan, and perform pilgrimage (haj) to the holy land, Hijaz, a province in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, once or more in their lifetime.

No Indonesian Muslim dares to say in public that he or she has intentionally abandoned these Islamic religious rites. Those who are accused of ignoring these religious duties are usually branded as Islam KTP (Muslim by ID card). This is a form of contempt.

Mecca and Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad was born and passed away respectively, are regarded as sacrosanct. The Indonesian Muslims regard the two cities, which play a central role in their religiosity, in high regard. The Kabah in Mecca is the one direction which Muslims face during daily prayers.

During Ramadhan many TV and radios stations broadcast the tarawih (evening) prayers from the Prophet’s Medina mosque. The audience watches and listens the program attentively.

During the haj season, many Indonesian Muslims sacrifice their properties — land, savings, farm animals, or anything else that can be sold — in order to pay for their journey to the holy land. Many Muslims have a dream of making a pilgrimage to the sacred shrines of the Prophet, regarded as a spiritual achievement.

Back home, the pictures of the Kabah and the Prophet’s mosque are often hung on the wall.

Besides ritual purposes, not only do Indonesians go to the holy land to seek for knowledge at the universities, they also go to find jobs. In terms of numbers, we export more migrant workers than scientists or students.

However, the tales from the holy land are not always wonderful. The image of the sacred cities has been tainted by some accounts of tragic events that have befallen Indonesian migrant workers.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Islam and dictatorship

Islam and dictatorship

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Thu, 03/03/2011 11:08 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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Whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy is a misleading question. Islam and democracy are two different entities, although both cannot be divorced when dealing with politics in the Muslim world.

In Indonesia, for instance, Islam and Muslims are two themes that cannot be ignored, from the period of the country’s independence to the era of reformation. The same rings true in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries. Islam and politics are interwoven.

Islam, like any other religion, is an old system of beliefs. Democracy is a new advancement of a modern political system. Each can complement the other. Collision between the two can also occur.

Those who apologetically insist that Islam teaches democracy and those who cynically reject the compatibility of democracy and Islam treat the religion as a monolithic entity. Both sides see Islam as one religion embraced by the same Muslims in many different countries and generations. They all disregard many other aspects, such as culture and economy, which of course play the same important role as religion does in society. Equally interesting is that the two sides see Islam and Muslims, the teachings and the people, the religion and its adherents, as the same.

In fact, Islam cannot be defined easily, as this religion has been present for a long time and has been embraced by various Muslims at different times and in different areas. All interpreted Islam uniquely and differently from each other.